Design Thinking: The Path to Innovating

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
3 min read

In the world of startup incubation, Design Thinking is a complimentary methodology to the Lean Startup approach. Lean Startup is based on applying the scientific method by making hypothesis (guesses) and testing them against customers. Lean Startup is a more science and engineering based approach to developing startups.

Design Thinking is a more intuitive and creative approach.

The two methods are complimentary. The goal in both cases is to achieve a fit between your offering and customer needs. Both methods provide a systematic, low-risk path to innovating under conditions of uncertainty.

The Lean Startup methodology came out of business and engineering thinking about how to create a standardized process for developing startups that limits risk and ups the odds of success. Design Thinking is a methodology that evolved out of the design field. It is more creative and aesthetic in its approach and conception. Entrepreneurs have adopted it because it works.

Like Lean Startup, Design Thinking is also an iterative process that focuses on understanding the needs of potential customers, testing ideas, and searching for product/market fit. It is a user-centered way to develop successful products and services.

Designers use this approach to solve complex problems and find optimal solutions. A design mindset is solution focused and action oriented.

Design Thinking draws upon creativity, imagination, intuition, and logical reasoning, to explore possibilities and refines the process as it goes along to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user, the customer.

Design thinking is inquiry-based and open-ended. It forces you to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. It is initially about generating empathy with the customer and their needs and wants.

There are a number of variations, but the basic steps in the Design Thinking process are:

· Empathy

· Define

· Ideate

· Prototype

· Test

Design Thinking

Like Lean Startup, Design Thinking is based on building a Minimal Viable Product, a product with enough features to gather meaningful feedback in order to see what’s working, and emphasize those features that really move the delight needle.

Design Thinking is a systematic innovation process for gaining deep customer understanding and deciding which features and which products to design and launch.

Design and Launch

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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